methods of resolving mismatches between place structures and number of overt sumti

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by And Rosta:

  1. When the number of overt sumti exceeds the number of sumti places:
    • see SE + x2-less brivla for the proposal that a nonce selbri-meaning is created that has a place structure that accommodates all overt sumti.
  2. 'When the number of sumti places exceeds the number of overt sumti:
    1. the current official rule is:
      • Empty places are to be filled only by implicit zo'e.
      • zo'e can be construed as anything but no da and zi'o.
    2. In usage, though, the rule is:
      • Empty places are to be filled only by implicit zo'e or implicit zi'o.
    3. la xorxes has proposed (and I increasingly like the idea) that the rule should be:
      • empty places are to be filled only by implicit zi'o.


And Rosta:

  • In usage, if people said (in standard grammar) what they mean, then lots of implicit sumti would have to be filled with overt zi'o.
    • Usually this is inadvertent, though I expect that most of those who do this inadvertently don't really care about this sort of error, because it so rarely impairs communication.
    • Sometimes it is advertent, with places of bloated gismu being left unfilled in the hope that through desuetude they will wither and die. But mere desuetude is insufficient to annul a sumti place; we would also need some sort of evidence that the speaker was actually expressing a meaning equivalent to the empty place being zihoed, yet this sort of evidence must be pretty hard to come by.
  • Many gismu are bloated. We would like to ziho off many of their sumti places, but are all pretty much in agreement that filling them with overt zi'o is unworkable.
  • The range of meanings covered by zi'o broda is a superset of the range covered by zo'e broda, so the proposed convention does not reduce the range of meanings expressed by the current convention.
  • The downside to the proposal is that each selbri potentially has as many polysemes as it has permutations of filled and unfilled places. But I don't see this as a problem: for example, even if mamta in ko'a mamta, which would mean ko'a mamta zi'o, could in principle mean something different from mamta in ko'a mamta fo'e, in practise they would mean the same thing, because the most natural interpretation of ko'a mamta (zi'o) is ko'a mamta da. The effects of the convention would only bite in the case of predicates where it makes good semantic sense to ziho off a place, and in these cases the effect of the proposal is to require the presence of an overt zo'e so as to express the intended polyseme.
  • The polysemy, then, would be limited to cases where it actually makes good sense, and as usage develops, the polysemy could be recorded in future dictionaries.
  • This is not so distinct from the situation that will arise from the status quo, except that because zo'e is not obligatory in places that could sensically be annulled, it is much harder to discern what is going on in place-structure usage.
  • The proposal would not totally eradicate Bloated Gismu Syndrome, because someone could still learn the bloated places from documentation and then use them, but I think that force of usage would tend to kill that off (Why use a sumti place that nobody else can remember the meaning of?) But Bloated Gismu Syndrome would be much less of a problem, because one would only need to learn the places that actually get used.